Planet of Dragons

 

 

 

Chapter Twelve-

Mizel's Dirty Little Trick

 

 

John awoke to a toe not so gently nudging his side.  Looking up, he saw Prince Mizel,  his special bodyguard and a hooded man glaring down at him.  "Get up, monster," the guard commanded, the translator echoing the words in English. Complying, John stiffly rose to his feet and silently waited for this day's entertainment.  What he got was anything but what he expected.

Quietly and with great disdain, Mizel said only two sentences.  "Abomination, I just wanted to let you know that my guards are dismantling the questing gate as we speak.  No one from the other side will be able to get through."  Then he turned and left. 

Reaching the end of the corridor Mizel turned to the hooded man, whose features were shadowed and mysterious.  "Do you think my statement had any effect on him?  His face remained passive.  I hope you are right and he understood what I said, Purifier."

"Your Highness, he understood.  Did you see his eyes?  That gave him away.  We should see results within several turns," the hooded man said.

"I sincerely hope so, I am tired of looking like the fool in front of that animal," Mizel said testily. 

"My Prince, he will respond exactly as I have predicted.  And when he does, you will be waiting...."

"Yes, I will be waiting," Mizel repeated. 

 

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John stood staring at the door for several minutes after the prince and his retinue left.  'The gate dismantled?  Stranded!!   Maureen and the kids on the other side. No! No!!'  His mind reeled from the shock of that revelation, and he began to pace.  His guard ordered him to sit down; John ignored the demand and continued walking back and forth, much as a caged tiger would.  His muscles tightened and his jaw clenched. Fury continued to mount and he barely restrained himself from bolting for the door. After a few minutes the guard walked up to him and grabbed his arm, trying to pull him down.  With no conscious thought, John backhanded him and the Krimlon hit the wall and slumped to the stone floor. 

Only cursorily checking the unconscious form to make sure he was alive, John reached for the control box and looked at the dials and settings.  Taking the knife from his guard's waist, he reversed it and with several blows of the handle turned the equipment into scrap, continuing to beat at it long after its effectiveness had been neutralized.  Kicking the pieces into a corner, John checked the door and finding it unlocked, quietly opened it and slipped out into the silent corridor.

He ran as quietly as he could and his boots made only slight echoes in the long hallway.  It would seem that few prisoners were kept in this part of Mizel's dungeon or else they were very quiet.  Feeling a peculiar intuitive sensation of trouble, John nevertheless continued down the corridor, seeking escape, seeking freedom.  Finally, he found a door leading to the outside, apparently this one had access to the rear of the palace. 

John smiled in satisfaction.  There were trees and shrubbery, excellent to hide in as he put as much distance between himself and the palace as he could.  To his right he saw and smelled evidence of a stable.  He was not a particularly skilled equestrian, but he had learned to ride back on Earth.  An animal would make the trip to the gate much easier.

At the door to the stable, he saw a conduit for delivering water to the animals.  Feeling a particular need, John paused long enough to dip his head and hands in the reservoir of cool water and wash at least a little of the grime he felt he had picked up in almost four days. The four-day growth of beard could not be taken care of right now, but he felt much better. 

John smoothed back his hair with one hand and tried a quick questing thought, wincing at the shock he received.  Morosely, he realized that the headband was waterproof, but at least the controlling device had been destroyed.  Then as he was reaching for the door handle, he felt a strong and sudden surge of bio-electric energy course through his brain and into his body, and he doubled up with the sudden pain. Cries of agony tore from his chest and echoed in the courtyard. Turning as though in molasses, John was aware of the prince, his guard and the hooded man just outside the same door that he had recently 'escaped' from. 

His ears only slightly acknowledged the sadistic laugh that was coming from the lips of the sovereign while his eyes noticed a duplicate controlling device in Mizel's hands.  John tried to clutch the doorframe, but felt his fingers drawing into fists and his body slipping to the ground.  The shock waves continued to beat at him.  "NO!!!" he cried out in agony as the earth rose up to meet him.  Continuing to keep a tenuous hold onto consciousness, John felt the jabs of pain moderate, and through a haze saw the prince and the hooded man standing over him. 

Still laughing, Mizel held the translator in one hand.  "I wanted you to try to get something that you desired so badly, Abomination, that you would even act stupidly to get it.  And then I wanted to see you fail."  His laughter subsided into chuckles.  "But what I told you was true.  The gate has been destroyed.  This is also true; I will break you.  I will destroy the myth of the Guardian."

As John's awareness of his surroundings began to slip away, he gathered strength to answer his tormentor.  "Damn you, Mizel."  The prince blanched and pushed a button on the controlling device.   What he didn't know was that his prisoner was already beyond feeling his punishments.

Mizel kicked the unconscious Guardian.  "That was pleasant.  What do we do for an encore, Purifier?" he asked. 

"I would suggest, my Prince, that we see what effect this incident has had on the Abomination," the Purifier said disdainfully.  "I also think we need to start surveillance on Guardsman Arandar.   He is sympathetic to the monster, and he has taught this freak our language.   Your sister is guilty of sedition as well.  She will have to be dealt with," the hooded man added.

"Yes, you are correct, but should we not wait and watch Arandar and Mooreelitha discreetly for a while longer?  It would not do to make them suspicious yet," Mizel said. 

"A little bit longer, my prince."  The hooded man gestured to the bodyguard who had been waiting by the door.  "Take the animal back to his cell."

 

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When Dar entered the cell that night, he felt something amiss immediately.   The Guardian sat against the wall, his head resting on his knees, but he didn't look up as he entered.  After awhile and when it was safe to do so, the Krimlon walked over to his human friend and shook his arm. 

"Leave me alone," the Guardian mumbled, not lifting his head.  

Dar was worried and wondered what had happened during the day.  Pulling out the water container that Litha had packed with his dinner, he took the stopper out and knelt down in front of the Guardian.  "Guardian, my beloved sent something that she thought might taste good to you.  It is also refreshing."

Finally the Guardian looked at Dar and the guard was struck with the abject hopelessness, bitterness and pain that was sketched on his face.  "I am not your Guardian. Get that through your head.  I didn't come here to fulfill some prophecy, and I don't want the responsibility.  I just wanted to find my friends and go back to my family.  And now I can do neither," he said fiercely.

"Here, take this," Dar suggested mildly.  After what seemed an eternity, the Guardian's eyes softened slightly, and he took the container, taking several swallows before realizing that he had more than water.  After coughing and choking, he looked at Dar.  "What is this stuff?" he whispered, his throat still protesting the tart and fiery liquid.  "I don't think I've ever had anything this potent before."

"It is the nectar from the stickleberry vine.  It is recommended mainly for physical pain, but it's also used for other kinds of pain," Dar explained quietly.

"Your beloved is very astute, Dar, because I am feeling a great deal of pain right now, John told him and took several more swallows.  Dar took it from him and replaced the stopper. 

"Enough.  As you said, it's very potent."  Putting the container away, he sat back and waited for his friend to begin. 

Sighing, John leaned back against the wall, careful not to let the headband touch anything.  "That's a very good painkiller, Dar.  This hellacious headache is beginning to fade already.  Your dear prince came to my cell today, but this time, instead of haranguing me, he simply told me that the gate had been dismantled.  I'm stranded on your world, Dar, and my beloved is on another planet."  He paused and stared at the ceiling for a few minutes.  "I suppose that's a blessing.  Maureen and the kids are safe on Karturm where Mizel can't get to them."  He then told his friend the details of his escape attempt.

"I am so sorry, Guardian.  I knew that the Prince was devious and malicious, but I wasn't expecting anything like this," he said with great feeling.

John became aware of the fact that although Dar was fairly emotional right now, he was unable to read any of his thoughts and feelings.  "I think I may be losing some of my telepathic abilities as well.  This device does its work well, he said bitterly.  He closed his eyes and let the drink continue to do its work.  "And stop calling me Guardian."  Both men were silent for several minutes.

"I do know this, Dar.  Mizel hasn't discouraged me from trying to escape.  He just taught me a very valuable lesson.  Never underestimate your opponent.  I have to be more careful.  But I have to escape before I'm stripped of my whole identity," he said softly with great conviction. 

Dar gave him some fried meat nuggets and a bread roll to go with them and sat back while his friend ate.   He wished that he didn't feel so helpless.   "I think now might be the time to try total compliance and see if that doesn't cause some of the restrictions to ease."

"Beg and grovel," John commented dryly, between mouthfuls.  He was beginning to feel somewhat better, physically. "By the way, give Litha my compliments.  This is very good."

Dar continued.  "I am serious, Guardian.  Strength is not the answer.  And compliance may be the key, because I think I can give you another reason to escape."  John looked up at him in curiosity.  "That gate was not the only one in existence.  The supplies to set up a gate were part of that cache that was found.  The same cache that your headband came from.  I believe that it's possible to get the parts to reestablish a link with K'rt'rm.  All the materials from the cache are stored near the palace in Kirvos."

Hope flared like a flame. "Dar, are you sure?" he asked. 

"Sure enough to mention it to you, Guardian," Dar commented with a smile.  "But, please, try Litha's way.  Do it the best you can."

"Well, all right, but you know that I'm going to gag even as I kowtow to that maniac," John said, using the Earth term.  Seeing Dar's confused expression, John demonstrated, executing a perfect head to the floor bow.  Dar laughed.

   

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The night was far gone when Maureen, Bralin and Max stepped out of the gate into the semi-coolness of  Krimlon's early morning hours.  Walking over to the nearest post, the robot examined the base and all along to the top.  At the base, he disconnected some wires and handed a box with the attached wires to Maureen.  "This is the power source that this device uses at night.  As far as I can see, the gate uses solar energy the rest of the time.  Very ingenious."  Carefully putting his plexi-steel arms around the post he gently, slowly heaved it out of the ground.  It slid out easily.  Bralin pointed out a tiny ravine about fifty paces from the gate and the robot carried it to the indicated spot and gently laid it down. 

The Krimlon began covering the post up with leaves, dead sticks and brush while the robot got the second one.  Soon all evidence of the gate, with the exception of the holes, was gone from sight.  "What are your plans now, Mrs. Robinson?" Max asked.

"We wait and watch for the soldiers.   I suspect that at the earliest, it will be later in the day.  As much as I want to leave and start looking for John, I worry that the soldiers will conduct a search of the area, wondering where the gate has gone to unless someone is here to give some kind of explanation."

As the sun came up, the trio ate from the basket that Judy and Maureen had packed the previous evening, then tried resting.  Max stealthily reconnoitered the area several times before joining the two humanoids.  "The area seems to be safe for the moment, Mrs. Robinson," Max informed her. 

"Well, then, why don't we practice with the staves for a short while," she said, pulling her staff out from its sling on her back.   Max did the same and proceeded to conduct a workout with her that lasted over an hour.  The mechanical man noticed her improvement from the previous day and consequently added more defensive as well as offensive moves to her repertoire.  

"Thanks, Max," she said appreciatively when they had finished.  The robot bowed and resumed his guard duties. 

Bralin had watched quietly from the side of the clearing while they practiced.   "Guardian's beloved, we need to come up with good names for you and the metal man," he pointed out.  "Krelon would be good for Max.  Korissa was the name of my grandmother.  Would that be suitable for you?" 

"It's a very pretty name, thank you."

Late in the afternoon, Max came striding silently into the clearing with the news that soldiers were close. 

 

 

 

Chapter Thirteen
Chapter One
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